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Here are some articles that you might find helpful when deciding what cleaning company to use.
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Keeping a Clean Home, Especially When You Share It With Your Pet
Feel like you’re always on pet patrol, trying to keep your home clean and safe for yourself and your furry friends? NSF experts share helpful tips.
Your dog may be your family’s best friend, but there’s no question that pets can make for a messy home. It’s your responsibility to keep your house safe and germ-free both for your family and for Max and Daisy.
“Pet bowls can be a breeding ground for bacteria and other microbes that can make your pet and your family sick,” said Lisa Yakas, Senior Certification Project Manager for Consumer Products at NSF. Indeed, a study conducted by NSF found that pet bowls were the number-four germiest area in the home.
Yakas and the public health experts at NSF offer these helpful tips on everything from how to wash your pet’s paws to cleaning and sanitizing their feeding bowls:
- Pet paws. After taking a walk along the sidewalk or through the park, or running around in the backyard, it would probably gross you out to learn what’s on your dog’s feet: everything from E. coli to streptococcus bacteria, fungus and more — pretty disgusting. So it’s best to clean your pet’s paws often. There are special animal wipes you can try, or a cloth with diluted soapy water, to keep their paws free from debris and disease after returning to the house.
- Dive into dishes. Pet bowls should be washed daily in a sanitizing dishwasher or scrubbed by hand with hot soapy water, then rinsed. After washing them by hand, submerge the dishes in an unscented household bleach solution made up of 5 tablespoons (1/3 cup) of bleach per gallon of water, or 4 teaspoons of bleach per quart of water. Let them sit in the solution for one minute, thoroughly rinse, then air-dry.
- Vinegar. Pet bowls, dishes, toys and other hard-surfaced pet items can sometimes get a calcium or hardness buildup. In this case, white vinegar can be a good solution to try to remove the scaling. Use a mixture of one part vinegar to one part water. There are a couple of ways to do this: One option is to warm up a bowl of vinegar and submerge the dirty dish until it bubbles away the buildup, then rinse and air-dry. The other option is to use vinegar on a scrubber to rub away the scaling, followed by a clean-water rinse and air drying. Vinegar is effective for freshening up surfaces — but it is NOT a sanitizer to kill germs.
- Rub-a-dub-dub. Give your pet’s toys a good soak in the sink too. Soft toys can be put into a sanitizing washer or dryer every week.
- Loo lids. Keep your toilet lids down to minimize your pet’s exposure to bacteria that could make them sick.
- Don’t be wishy-washy. If you’ve been playing with Lila the lizard or Tatum the turtle — or any of your favorite pets — it’s important to wash your hands thoroughly and properly afterward. Don’t rush through the scrubbing.
- Pooper scooper. If you have a mess inside your house, it’s important to clean it up. Your dog’s urine or feces, your cat’s litter box, your bird’s cage or your hamster’s favorite towel can all carry germs.
- Fuzz busters. Furry Max and your favorite feline, Daisy, may leave trails of fuzzy hair. Use a vacuum cleaner with strong suction and possibly a HEPA filter on it; not only does this pick up the pet hair, but it also prevents the spread of airborne germs. In addition to your pet’s bed and favorite sleeping rug, vacuum chairs and curtains if they are regularly catching dog hair or cat fur.
Clean the Germiest Home Items
Article taken from nsf.org
If you thought that your bathroom was the germiest place in your home, think again. The study revealed that the top hot spots in the home were in the kitchen.
In a 2011 germ study conducted by NSF, 22 families swabbed 30 everyday household items ranging from kitchen surfaces to cell phones to pet items in order to measure contamination levels of yeast, mold and coliform bacteria (a family of bacteria that includes Salmonella and E. coli).
The findings from this study indicated that there are common misconceptions about where the highest concentration of germs is found in the home. The study revealed that three of the top five germ hot spots in the home actually were in the kitchen. The top ten hot spots are identified below, along with tips to help keep these areas germ free.
1. Kitchen Sponge/Dish Rag
The item most frequently used to clean dishes and countertops was actually the germiest place found in most homes. Sponges and dish rags can pick up bacteria during the cleaning process, and, if not properly sanitized between uses, can be a prime spot for germ growth.
To Clean: Place wet sponges in the microwave for two minutes once per day and replace often — every two weeks or more as needed. Better options for kitchen cleaning are dishcloths, towels and rags. These items can be sanitized by washing on the clothes washer’s sanitizing cycle or with bleach. Replace washable linens every one to two days.
2. Kitchen Sink
The second highest concentration of microorganisms was found in the kitchen sink.
To Clean: Wash and disinfect the sides and bottom of the sink once or twice a week with a disinfecting cleaner. You may consider an EPA Safer Choice disinfecting cleaner or wash the sink itself in a bleach solution of one tablespoon of bleach to one gallon of water. Sanitize kitchen drains and disposals monthly by pouring a solution of one tablespoon household bleach in one quart of water down the drain. Wash kitchen sink strainers in the dishwasher weekly.
3. Toothbrush Holder
The third germiest place in homes wasn’t in the kitchen, but the bathroom. And while many people would suspect faucet handles or light switches to be a germy place, the toothbrush holders in our test homes revealed more germs.
To Clean: If dishwasher safe, place the toothbrush holder in a sanitizing dishwasher and wash once or twice a week. If not, hand wash with hot soapy water, rinse and then wipe with disinfecting wipe once or twice a week.
4. Pet Bowl
If you have a pet in your home, you probably need to know that pet dishes were found to be the fourth germiest place in the homes analyzed.
To Clean: Pet dishes should be washed daily, either in a sanitizing dishwasher or scrubbed by hand with hot soapy water, then rinsed. If handwashing, place the dishes in a bleach solution1 of 5 tablespoons (1/3 cup) bleach per gallon of water or 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water with contact time of one minute once per week. Rinse thoroughly and allow to air dry. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for all disinfection products for amount of product to mix with water, how to apply, contact time, and rinse and drying requirements.
5. Coffee Reservoir
Rounding out the top five germiest places in the home was the coffee reservoir. Given the dark, damp location, it’s not surprising that it is a prime location for bacteria, mold and mildew to grow.
To Clean: Follow the manufacturer’s recommended cleaning instructions. A common recommendation is to clean by adding up to four cups of undiluted vinegar to the reservoir, letting it stand for 30 minutes and then running the vinegar through the unit. This is followed by running two to three cycles of fresh water through the unit until the vinegar odor is gone. Most manufacturers recommend cleaning every 40-80 brew cycles or at least monthly.
6. Faucet Handles
Faucet handles in both the kitchen and bath contained coliform bacteria as well as yeast and/or mold.
To Clean: Clean daily with disinfecting cleaner, bleach solution (as described in #4 above) or disinfecting wipes. You may also want to consider an EPA Safer Choice disinfecting cleaner.
7. Pet Toys
Pet toys were a source of coliform bacteria (including Staph bacteria), yeast and mold in many homes. Encourage everyone in your household to wash their hands after playing with household pets and especially before eating.
To Clean: Hard toys can be cleaned gently with hot soapy water, rinsed with fresh water, disinfected with a bleach solution of half a tablespoon of bleach in one gallon of water and thoroughly rinsed to remove any residue then allow to air dry. Soft toys can be washed with other laundry on the washer’s sanitizing cycle. Wash monthly or more often as needed.
Countertops had coliform bacteria present in 30 percent of the homes tested. Sources of coliform can be traced to many food items, including unwashed produce as well as raw meat and poultry. Coliform can also be introduced into a kitchen through improperly washed hands as well as contact with household pets, including pet dishes and toys.
To Clean: Once all food prep activities are completed, wash the countertop with hot soapy water, rinse with clean water. To sanitize and disinfect, apply a bleach solution (as described in #4 above) or use a sanitizing agent recommended for your countertop type. This should be done daily or after each meal preparation.
9. Stove Knobs
While not a place that many of us think about, stove knobs are in the top ten for common places for germs to hide in our homes.
To Clean: Once per week, remove knobs, wash in hot soapy water, rinse well, let dry and re-install.
10. Cutting Boards
Because cutting boards may be used for many different foods, it’s important to thoroughly wash them after each use and between food types.
To Clean: Place in the dishwasher after each use or hand wash with hot soapy water, rinse and submerge in a bleach solution (as described in #4 above).
Although not all germs may cause health problems, proper cleaning of neglected or overlooked areas can help further reduce the risk of foodborne illness and infection. Be aware of the hot spot locations in your home and be smart about protecting yourself and your loved ones.